Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Cindy Melby Phaneuf


This thesis study documents the process of creating the stage fights for a production of S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel. Special emphasis is placed on the teaching process involved in developing the four episodes of violence in the play. The study is in partial fulfillment for Thesis Option II: Final project in Dramatic Arts requirements. Literature on the subject of teaching stage combat to young actors is limited. The small handful of modern text devoted to combat are “how-to” manuals describing techniques which may be taught to adults by directors or teachers. These works are seminal in the field and important for their stress of safety. Yet advice for working with young actors is at most general and more often overlooked. The purpose of this study is to develop and document an approach to stage combat, grounded in adult principles, but tailored for young actors. The outcome is to: (1) Make the episodes of violence safer and more effective; (2) Give the actors some insight into the history and psychology of personal violence. The introduction includes a background of the study. The reasons for choosing The Outsides are documented along with a justification of the play as an ideal tool for teaching young actors about violence. The play’s relevance to the mission of the Omaha Theater Company’s teen series, “Teenagers Who Desperately Love Theater” is also discussed. Chapter 1 focuses on existing literature regarding the teaching of stage combat techniques to young actors. This includes books and journal articles. Chapter 2 includes a short synopsis of the play followed by an in-depth look at the four episodes of violence to be choreographed. The examination of the fights centers on the text of the play and my initial observations regarding the playwright’s intentions. Chapter 3 delves into rehearsal approaches to the fights and the projected outcomes of the study. The goals regarding safety, dramatic clarity, and unity are articulated. Chapter 4 evaluates the process of directing and choreographing the production in terms of the production’s effectiveness, attainment of goals, and areas needing improvement or further study. The final portion of this chapter is devoted to describing changes in the original approach and how the changes might be implemented into future productions. A personal journal documenting the daily rehearsal process makes up the first appendix. I also include my personal fight notation system for fight number 4. A selected bibliography completes the Final Book.


A Thesis-Equivalent Project Presented to the Department of Dramatic Arts and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts in Dramatic Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1995 Kevin Barratt.